16 August 2011

Farm Fresh Flavor!

Fresh from the Farm...

I know I promised some recipes and notes about simple sauces for this post, but this had to come first since we’re finally enjoying some summer sun around here! 

Living in the Pacific NorthWest has allowed my family access to beautiful forests, beaches, a variety of weather with which I have a serious love-hate relationship, and of course, incredible, beautiful fresh edibles. Recently I, along with a wonderful group of families from my son’s preschool, traveled a short distance to a blueberry farm. Going berry picking is one of those thing my husband and I kept talking about doing, planning, and forgetting. Well, I could not be more thrilled to have finally gone and shared the day with my son and some great new friends.

Here in Snohomish County, WA farms are near and far, big and small. There are hay farms, berry farms, veggie farms, animal farms, plant farms, and more! You name it, we’ve got a farm that grows it! 

Our destination on this particular adventure was Bryant Blueberry Farm where they grow a variety of blueberries, as well as Tayberries (hybrid of a raspberry and blackberry) and rhubarb. We arrived at the farm, passing dozens of others on the way through the country, and saw 30+ rows of berries and other goodies stretching from the  earth with colors galore and berries from top to bottom. We grabbed our plastic buckets, gave the little ones some guidance about picking the purple and blue berries, and leaving the green ones to ripen for the next visit, and got on with the picking! It was a really fun experience to see where the fixings for our next baking day came from, and enjoy the outdoors while doing something to help create healthy nutritious treats for our families. 

Before we knew it our buckets we’re filling up, the kids were covered in berry juices from squishing and eating, and it was time to hit the onsite playground, play a little tether ball and say hello to the Bryant Farm goats and ducks. While the kids enjoyed the huge sandbox moms were busy talking about all the fabulous things we had planned for our our plump little treasures full of antioxidants and tangy, sweet flavor! Blueberry Pancakes were on everyone’s list along with varying other items like cookies, coffee cakes, sauces and syrups. What was my first priority? Blueberry Banana Bread! I knew I had a few bananas sitting at home on the verge of collapse just waiting to be smashes and mashed, mixed with other wonderful ingredients to create a perfect blend of colors, textures and flavors. 

Today, It was time. We were heading off to camp and I promised the family a share of our haul in the form of baked goods to be enjoyed al fresco! So I woke up, got some laundry started, fed my silly kiddo and then got on with testing this new recipe! An hour and a half later, after whisking, mixing, sifting, careful incorporation of ingredients and baking, I had 2 lovely golden loaves of bread bursting with berries from end to end and just the right amount of sweetness and tart.  

What’s in store for the rest of the near three pounds of blueberries we came home with?  Well, pancakes or waffles of course, freezing some for smoothies (very popular treat in our house), sauce for ice-cream, waffles, a spoon....there are loads of possibilities to make the best of these little blue gems!

If you live in an area where you’re fortunate enough to have u-pick farms for berries, veggies, apples, etc. there’s no reason not to check it out! Aside from seeing exactly where your food comes from and how it’s grown, it’s a great way to great great prices on produce as u-pic is often a good deal less than buying pre-picked produce, it allows you to share a day outside with family and friends, and continue the sharing at home once you are back in your keen kitchen creating goodies for all seasons and all tastes.

Recipes to follow soon! I promise!